Europe is the leader of the growing market for the offshore wind energy. Most of the activities take place in the wet conditions of the North Sea. As the people work in varying temperatures and under dire weather conditions, it is most important that their personal protective equipment (PPE) is not only up-for-the-job and in accordance with all regulations, it should also raise the feeling of comfort for the user. While it is true that wet or sweat drenched PPE is not one of the main problems for offshore operators, many small issues can lead to bigger ones.
“Being wet and, in some cases, cold is uncomfortable. It can be proven that employees’ motivation rises when they’re in dry work gear.” says Jaap Baars, founder of Pronomar BV. “Wet work clothes can cause a higher susceptibility, which can lead to a forced fill up of empty spaces due to the sickness of employees. Furthermore, bad working circumstances are a nutritional basis for dissatisfaction, a lack of motivation and a lower productivity.” Baars continues.
Not only external factors influence the comfort and health of the wearer, also internal factors do. Bacteria get the chance to grow in wet or damp PPE, with unpleasant odours as unwanted consequence. In some cases, such as with immersion suits, even mildew can occur.
It is crucial for operators to remember that health plays an important role in the industry and buying into health is the best return on investment any company can generate. Healthier workers are more focused on their jobs and more alert to safety risks, in turn creating the potential to reduce the number of accidents. Studies focusing on occupational health showed that the use of dry work wear results in a significant decrease of sick leaves. In the long run, many chronic diseases are caused by wearing wet clothes, leading to costly down-time in organisations. Furthermore, by keeping the work garments dry, bacteria have little to no chance to grow.
Off to a comfortable and dry start
Baars’ company tackles these issues by distributing special drying equipment for common offshore clothing. A solution for all work clothes that need to be used again quickly. The drying systems comprise a stainless steel frame, connected to a warm-air blower. The blower ensures an optimal warm-air circulation through the clothing.
“After a long workday, the crew just wants to put away their suits and boots and not think about work until their next shift. However, placing a piece of garment over a heater, for instance, is not an ideal drying method, as heat can ultimately damage materials such as leather and neoprene. We strive to help maintain the protective function of the PPE by giving it the care it deserves. At the same time, it prolongs the lifespan of the costly gear by about two to three times.” Jiska Bazuin, Operations Manager, explains. Pronomar’s drying equipment has special body-shaped hangers to easily hang the clothes on. The hangers contain nozzles, through which the air enters the clothing, reaching all areas from the arm pits to the tips of the boots. A timer ensures that the systems will automatically turn off after the set time, allowing the crew to enjoy their free time without having to think of the dryers again.
Comfort is care
These days you see saunas, fitness rooms and even cinemas on board offshore vessels to increase the peoples comfort during off-time. Naturally, it is also important to keep thinking about what can be done to increase their comfort during work time. In the past ten years, already many offshore wind operators worldwide chose to have drying equipment on-board. Examples are: accommodation vessels such as Glomar’s Glomar Wave, C-Bed’s Wind Innovation; walk-to-work vessels such as Acta Marine’s Acta Orion, Bibby Marine Services’ Bibby WaveMaster 1, Chevalier Floatels’ Gezina & Galyna; jack-up vessels such as Fred. Olsen Windcarrier’s Brave Tern & Bold Tern, GeoSea’s Innovation; service operation vessels such as Bernard Schulte’s Windea La Cour & Windea Leibniz; cable laying vessels such as Boskalis’ Ndurance & Ndeavour, Van Oord’s Nexus and installation vessels such as Van Oord’s Aeolus and Seaway Heavy Lifting´s Oleg Strashnov.
The flexible and modular drying systems fit in all rooms, from small niches to complete large-scale drying rooms. For your personalised drying rooms Pronomar provides an AutoCAD engineering service. The scope of supply includes open drying systems, drying cabinets and drying containers. If a customer sees no possibility to equip a room for drying, or if flexibility is needed to accommodate great numbers of employees operating in different parts of the world, they can welcome the drying container, which is developed in collaboration with ELA Offshore Container GmbH. The drying containers are “Made in Germany” according to German quality standards and all offshore units have DNV 2.7-1 / EN 12079-1 and CSC certificates. Depending on the exact requirements, the container can be individually customised.
The Industry Contribution is a new section in which offshore wind companies share their project endeavors or analyses. Please contact us at email@example.com for inquiries.